Home Behind The Scenes Interview With James D’Arcy & William Catlett, Stars Of Apple TV+ New Psychological Thriller ‘Constellation’

Interview With James D’Arcy & William Catlett, Stars Of Apple TV+ New Psychological Thriller ‘Constellation’

Created by Peter Harness and directed by Emmy Award winner Michelle MacLaren

by Dave Elliott

A couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the cast and crew of the new Apple TV+ psychological thriller Constellation, which premieres next week on the streaming service.

‘Constellation’ stars Noomi Rapace (Django, Jack Ryan) as Jo — an astronaut who returns to Earth after a disaster in space — only to discover that key pieces of her life seem to be missing. The action-packed space adventure is an exploration of the dark edges of human psychology, and one woman’s desperate quest to expose the truth about the hidden history of space travel and recover all that she has lost.

Alongside Rapace, the series also stars Jonathan Banks (‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Better Call Saul’), James D’Arcy (‘Agent Carter’, ‘Oppenheimer’, ‘Grace’), William Catlett (‘Black Lightning’, ‘A Thousand and One’, ‘The Devil You Know’), Julian Looman (‘Emily in Paris’, ‘The Mallorca Files’)Barbara Sukowa (‘Voyager’, ‘Hannah Arendt’) and introducing Rosie and Davina Coleman as Alice.

Created and written by Peter Harness (“Wallander,” “The War of the Worlds,” “Doctor Who” ), the drama is directed by Emmy Award winner Michelle MacLaren (“Shining Girls,” “The Morning Show,” “Breaking Bad”), Oscar nominee Oliver Hirschbiegel (“Downfall,” “The Experiment”) and Oscar nominee Joseph Cedar (“Footnote,” “Our Boys”).

We sat down with cast members James D’Arcy  & William Catlett about their roles in the series, filming “in space”, and trying desperately not to spoil anything along the way!..

Geektown: Hi. Lovely chatting with both of you. I finished watching the show today, it’s absolutely fantastic. The only problem I have doing this interview is… How do I actually talk about this without spoiling anything! So probably the best place to start is just explaining who you play. James, let’s come to you first.

James D’Arcy: Yeah, sure. I play the role of Magnus, who’s the husband, the stay-at-home husband… or stay-on-earth husband of our lead, which is the character of Jo, played by the amazing Noomi Rapace. And when you initially meet the family, right away, I think you know that something’s off. There’s something off in the family dynamic, which is exacerbated. The screw is turned almost every 10 minutes by our writer and showrunner Peter Harness, who just piles pressure onto this family dynamic at every opportunity. So we’re watching a sci-fi show, but then maybe we’re watching a thriller, or a family drama, or a conspiracy theory show. And in fact, it’s all of those things with the backbone of this really human family story where they’re all in extremis. It’s like a big chocolate mousse of a show!

Geektown: Well done. William, what about you?

William Catlett: Paul Lancaster is a dream role to play. He’s a character that is very complex. He’s the commander of the Space Station, and he’s working on something that is exclusive and can change the course of humanity. And when that catastrophic event happens, everything shifts and everything changes. And now I’m trying to figure out what just happened. I’m returning home and I’m not sure what just happened. I’m trying to put the pieces to the puzzle together, and my character mirrors Jo’s character. And so we are kind of having the same dynamics going on back and forth, trying to find answers, and that’s human behaviour. And I think Peter Harness did a great job of trying to get us to go inward instead of outward and figure out what is really going on. What answers do I need to be seeking at this time? Constellation does a great job of asking the question, and you, the viewer looking for the answer, and that’s why you feel the way you feel after watching an episode.

Geektown: Yeah. As I said, it’s really difficult to talk about it without spoiling things, but you both did a good job! William, as you mentioned, you are in space for the opening of it. How was it filming the space sequences? Presumably, you’re on wires for a lot of that, was that something you had any experience of beforehand?

William: No, I didn’t. But I was ready to be thrown into it and it was quite an experience. There were days when you’re like, “wow, man”, I was able to move so smoothly. And then there were days when it just hurt! You’re just in the harness and it just hurts and you’re in there for 12 hours and it just hurts! Especially the episode – without giving anything away – when I’m up against the wall and I’m on something, but it’s painful to be there for that amount of time. But at the same time, Noomi’s giving it her all as Jo, the other astronauts are giving it their all and so we’re all in this tight little space trying to figure something out, and that’s the show, and that’s humanity. But yeah, it was wonderful being in space and Scott Kelly, the astronaut who came on and taught us a lot about his experience being an astronaut in space was very, very helpful and insightful.

Geektown: I was going to ask about that because you did have advisors on set for it. How useful is it to get that kind of authenticity from those sorts of people?

William: I remember just a quick note talking to Scott Kelly, we were all around a round table and he got his wife on the phone. I said, “Can you call your wife? Because I want to ask her a question.” He called his wife, I said, “How was it when Scott came back and when he kissed you for the first time?” She said, “Well you know…” And I can hear her choking up. And she says, “Well, he was very distant. It took a while for our kisses to be connected. I felt like he was still in another time and he wasn’t really in the right space just yet.” And I was able to take what she had said and that gave me a motivation and a driving force to bring some things that I wanted Paul to bring to life.

Geektown: And with you, James, the story that you are dealing with, is it quite – without giving anything away – is it difficult to keep track of where you are with your character and which character you are playing at that point?

James: Look, the show is definitely a “lean-in” show. And from the perspective of shooting, it was a “lean-in” experience. There was no part about it that you didn’t have to have your wits about you all the time. And the nature of filming is such that we shot the most emotional sequences that come towards the end of the season first. And that was really a leap of faith, I have to say, I’m so grateful that our writer and showrunner Peter Harness, at least in his head for those first few months, was so clear about what it was. Because all I had to do, really, was trust him, trust the words he’d written and trust that it did all work out. And that’s the same for Michelle MacLaren, for Joseph Cedar, for Oliver Hirschbiegel, who were three of the greatest directors I’ve ever worked with. They also would at times look to Peter because he was the only person who held it all in his head for a long, long time.

Geektown: On the subject of that, did you have the whole script when you went into it? Did you know where it was going?

James: I read all eight episodes in a day, so I had a similar experience to somebody who might binge-watch this show. And I’m sure there’ll be a few that do. However, the scripts that I read were fairly early in the process and you wouldn’t have thought that they could change because it’s so intricate. But it’s amazing how much work Peter did to add depth to every single corner of the show from when I first read it. And when I first read it, it was brilliant. And then he went away and did things to it and you were like, “Oh my God, how are you doing that?”

Geektown: It is a phenomenal bit of writing and yeah, talking about bingeing it because I got the opportunity to binge it, it’s going to be a nightmare-ish for people who have to wait a week between episodes!

James: But isn’t that great?

Geektown: Yes totally! Nightmare-ish in a brilliant way! Proper “water cooler” TV!

James: When Netflix brought out the thing where they released the entire season in one day and everybody was really excited about that, actually, now we’ve kind of gone back for the most part till you get an episode a week. I love that we’re waiting a week for the next episode of the shows that we love. I love that we’re all talking about it in a way that… When it all came out at the same time, you couldn’t talk about it because you didn’t know if somebody had watched any of it or not. Now it’s coming out once a week, you get to actually have the live conversation again, the water cooler moments, which I love.

Geektown: I do hope it returns for another season because it does seem to set up that maybe…

James: It definitely leaves the possibility open, but we’ll see. Let’s hope this show is well received.

Produced by Turbine Studios and Haut et Court TV, the series is executive produced by David Tanner (“Small Axe”), Tracey Scoffield (“Small Axe”), Caroline Benjo (“No Man’s Land”), Simon Arnal (“No Man’s Land”), Carole Scotta (“No Man’s Land”) and Justin Thomson (“Liaison”). MacLaren directs the first two episodes and executive produces with Rebecca Hobbs (“Shining Girls”) and co-executive producer Jahan Lopes for MacLaren Entertainment. Harness executive produces through Haunted Barn Ltd. The series was shot principally in Germany and was series produced by Daniel Hetzer (“Munich — The Edge of War”) for Turbine Studios, Germany.

Constellation‘ premieres the first three episodes on Wednesday, 21st February 2024 on Apple TV+ globally.

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